Fingers on the pulse

Stiff Little Fingers play the Glen Pavillion in Dunfermline on August 4.''(l-r) Steve Grantley, Jake Burns, Ali McMordie and Ian McCallum.''Pic credit: Dod Morrison
Stiff Little Fingers play the Glen Pavillion in Dunfermline on August 4.''(l-r) Steve Grantley, Jake Burns, Ali McMordie and Ian McCallum.''Pic credit: Dod Morrison

“IT almost feels like a second home.”

This is how Jake Burns, founder member of punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers thinks of Scotland.

The guitarist took time out of his busy schedule this week to speak to the Press ahead of the band’s gig at the Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline on Saturday, August 4.

“I love coming back to Scotland,” he says.

“We’re really looking forward to it.

“We played in Dunfermline, at Velocity, some time ago and it was a really good, fun time.

“I don’t know the town at all, I think that’s the only time I’ve been before, but I’m looking forward to playing there again.”

This year marks the band’s 35th anniversary, having originally started out in 1977.

Stiff Little Fingers were formed by Jake after seeing the Clash play in his hometown of Belfast.

Their name was taken from a Vibrators lyric of that year: “If it wasn’t for your stiff little fingers nobody would know you were dead.”

With a history spanning that many years, how does it feel to still be doing what you love and playing music with your mates?

“When we started I think like any band it started as a hobby and we were doing it for fun. Then it started to become serious and took off and stuff.

“I think most people think if it lasts a couple of years it will be a fun thing to do then we’ll move on and get sensible jobs.

“When you get to 35 years you start thinking I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.

“It’s very flattering people have stuck with us, but we have got an audience which comprises now of not just the die hards from the start, but younger kids too.

“The likes of Green Day have name checked us as an influence so some of their fans are among those in the crowds. It’s a long time, and it’s strange because when you stop and think about it it takes your breath away.”

But it wasn’t just because it was fun and their hobby that saw the band form.

Jake added: “It was also at the time when the whole punk rock thing started, and living in Belfast it felt like these bands are not going to come and play here, so if we want to hear this music we’ll have to play it ourselves.”

Three and a half decades is a long time for a band to be together, and over the years there have been some changes in membership.

The band went their separate ways in 1983 after releasing four studio albums, before reuniting in 1987.

But how does the singer feel the music has changed?

“Obviously everyone plays better now,” he laughs. “When we started we didn’t really know what we were doing. It becomes more professional whether you want it to or not.

“I hope that it’s still as exciting for people, as it’s still exciting for us to make and play.

“I think we’ve become a lot pickier of what we do and put out, that’s also a consequence of having done it for so long.

“I think the standards just become higher, maybe that’s a bad thing. That’s one of the reasons it’s taken us so long to get the next album out.

“It’s been eight or nine years since our last record. I’ve listened to what we’ve been writing and didn’t think it was up to the standard.

“The bottom line is it’s still got to be exciting and fun - that’s always what we’ve wanted.”

As for next Saturday’s gig, what can people expect?

“Having done this for such a long time now when people come see you we’re not trying to sell anything new. It’s a look back and a celebration of the 35 years of the band.

“There are songs people will have known from day one and also some things that will be featured on our new record when we get round to making it.

“We’re trying to cover as many bases as we can from the band’s history and hopefully a good time will be had by all.”

Stiff Little Fingers are playing just three dates in the UK this summer, but will be returning for a full tour in November.

Jake said: “We’re still even adding dates to that and we’re finishing up in Italy in December.

“That feels like real work, this is a fun weekend away.

“We’ve already started booking the March tour for the following year.

“It feels like the road goes on forever.”

>> Stiff Little Fingers will play the Glen Pavilion, Dunfermline on Saturday, August 4.

To win tickets to the gig see P48.